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Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) had his portrait painted many times and this engraving is based on Franklin’s personal favorite. It is a portrait d’apparat, showing the already-distinguished scientist amidst his experimental equipment. In the background are depicted three of the electrical experiments that brought Franklin to the attention of scientific bodies in England and the Continent. Franklin gave this copy of the mezzotint engraving to his friend and fellow scientist Mather Byles (1706-1788) in 1764.